Games played: 2017 – 22; 2016 – 24
Average: 2017 – 75.3; 2016 – 64.8
Minutes played: 2017 – 62.6; 2016 – 51.7
We’ve known for years that Taumalolo is a beast, but he finally showed his SuperCoach credentials with a top 5 overall points / top 4 average points season in 2017. It came as we expected too – H8 runs, tackle busts, offloads, linebreaks and a few major attacking stats. None of this was overly surprising given how incredible he looked on the field, so it’s merely a matter of Lolo finally delivering on his promise, right?
Here’s the thing, his minutes in 2017 are inflated. Big time. By concussion and/or concussion tests, by injuries to other players and by golden point games. I’ll break it down for you. If you don’t care for the minor details, skip ahead to where it says “READ FROM HERE” below if you want.
Round 1 – 4 minutes extra time and a concussion for Granville. Played 70 minutes.
Round 2 – 7 minutes extra time, Scott goes down with an ACL, Winterstein gets injured and Hess ends up playing on the edge and Lowe to centre instead of having Lowe push into lock and taking minutes off Lolo. Played 78 minutes.
Rounds 3 & 4 – suspended for shoulder charge.
Round 5 – Hess cops a headknock and Lowe ends up playing edge instead of in the middle again. Played 57 minutes.
Round 6 – Fence gets injured within 5 minutes of coming off the bench, Lolo gets 80 minutes instead of probably the 60 he was likely to play.
Round 7 – normal week, plays 62 minutes.
Round 8 – no injuries for the Cowboys, plays 51 minutes.
Round 9 – no injuries for the Cowboys, plays 50 minutes.
Round 10 – Ray Thompson had a HIA test (Hampton filled in) but no injuries to the forwards. Played 50 minutes.
Round 11 – no injuries to note, plays 67 minutes in a tight game won by the Sharks (18 – 14).
Round 13 – no injuries to note, plays 69 minutes in a comfortable 20 – 8 win over the Titans.
Round 14 – no injuries to note, plays 48 minutes in a big win over the Eels in Darwin.
Round 15 – 4 minutes of extra time plus it was a blockbuster game against the Storm.
Round 16 – Granville was concussed after only playing 30-odd minutes. Played 64 minutes.
Round 17 – no injuries to the Cowboys, played 50 minutes.
Round 19 – Winterstein only played 40 minutes but Lolo only played 56 minutes, although the game was in Cairns and the Cowboys comfortably won 23 – 10.
Round 20 – Fence went off with a rib injury, he played close to his average minutes before going off but was still short of his usual minutes. Lolo played 61 minutes.
Round 21 – no injuries to note, Lolo played 61 minutes.
Round 22 – Gooper only played 2 minutes, Winterstein 7 minutes, Bolton also left the field for some medical treatment. Lolo played 72 minutes.
Round 23 – O’Neill injured in the 13th minute, Morgan concussed at the end of the first half, Linnett off for HIA, Granville also off for a short stint before halftime due to HIA but returned. Lolo plays 76 minutes.
Round 24 – Asiata only played 20 minutes due to a broken arm, Ponga is injured and leaves after 40-ish minutes, and Lolo himself went off after a shot to the ribs – but left under HIA interchange (lol), got needled up and returned at the end of the 15 minutes. He played 60 minutes.
Round 25 – no injuries to note, Lolo played 64 minutes.
Round 26 – no injuries to note, Lolo played 63 minutes but it was the Broncos’ blockbuster and the Cowboys had their finals hopes on life support (they lost anyway though haha).
READ FROM HERE
So, what to make of all that rambling mess above? Well, from my calculations above, there were only 11 games out his 22 games played (underlined) where his minutes were unaffected by any external factors like golden point and injury/concussion. His averages from those games were 67.5 ppg from 57.7 mpg. That’s almost 7 ppg below his season average for 2017, and is far more comparable to his numbers from 2016 (averaged 64.6 ppg from 51.7 mpg).
Numbers aside, with Matt Scott being injured for most of the year, Lolo was basically the alpha forward for the Cowboys, and was duly playing the role of ‘leader of the pack’. For 2018, with Scott’s return, as well as the addition of the latest Australian Test prop Jordan McLean, are we more likely than not going to see Taumalolo’s minutes get managed? After all, he is the Cowboys’ prized signing and they need to make him last the rest of his 10-year contract! I will say yes, and for that reason I’m not starting him from Round 1 and will wait until his price corrects to at least 5 ppg, if not more, below his starting price. Big regression candidate for 2018!
Now, the qualifier to all of this is a recent article talking about Lolo planning to increase his offloads this year. He made 20 effective offloads and 8 ineffective offloads last year (total of 28), making up an average of 4.36 ppg to his average. Compare this to Marty Taupau’s 54 effective offloads and 15 ineffective offloads (total of 69… nice), which added a massive 11.71 ppg to his season average. If he really does get the offload going… then he could potentially match his current average even if he drops his average minutes – but that’s a risk I’m not willing to take from Round 1.